- President Barack Obama
Thirteen hunger strikers in Guantanamo have written an open letter to their military doctors, as follows:
“I do not wish to die, but I am prepared to run the risk that I may wind up doing so, because I am protesting the fact that I have been locked up for more than a decade, subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment and denied access to justice.
You claim to be acting according to your duties as a physician to save my life. This is against my expressed wish. As you should know, I am competent to make my own decisions about medical treatment. I refuse the treatments you offer; you force me to take them and by violent means, at that.. …I can not trust your advice, because you.... put your duty to your superior officers above your duty to me as a doctor.....the process of having a tube forced down my throat and pulled out repeatedly in order to keep me in a state of semi-starvation is extremely painful and the conditions under which it is done are abusive. Your prescription for me is therefore also inhuman and degrading....our present doctor-patient relationship can not contribute to resolving the present deadlock my hunger strike has reached.
I have some sympathy for your impossible position…. you will have to live with what you have done and not done here at Guantanamo for the rest of your life. I urge you to consider that while thinking about this letter.
I …..request that I be allowed access to examination by and independent medical advice from a doctor or doctors chosen by my lawyers, in confidence, those doctors to be supplied with my full medical notes in advance of their visit.” (1)
These hunger strikers have asked that doctors and nurses around the world show solidarity with them and help to “protect them from harm and injustice”.
In reply, Medact (www,medact.org) a charity which defends human rights to health and healthcare, has prepared the following petition, to be delivered publicly to President Obama. We urge our clinician colleagues to sign it in a personal capacity. Please indicate in the last column if you have relevant experience and/or expertise and are willing to visit Guantanamo or advise. All fields are mandatory.
Dear Mr. President,
We write to you as doctors and other health professionals, to request that you attend to the open letter (1) to their military doctors from 13 of the hunger strikers in Guantanamo.
It is clear that they do not trust their military doctors. They have very good reason for this, as you should know from the current protocols (2) of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) which those doctors are ordered to follow. The orders they receive are ultimately your orders as their Commander-in-Chief.
Without trust, safe and acceptable medical care of mentally competent patients is impossible. Since they do not trust their military doctors, they are unlikely to comply with current medical advice.
That makes it imperative for them access to independent medical examination and advice, as they ask, and as required by the UN and World Medical Association (3,4).
Many of the hunger strikers will be currently unfit for long-distance flights.
We endorse their request, and are prepared to visit them under appropriate conditions, to assist in their recovery and release, and certify when we are confident it is medically safe for them to fly.
If you keep your word (given over four years ago) and arrange release of detainees, they will need to become fit to fly before they can be returned to wherever you order your forces to send them.
We have the deepest sympathy for the hunger strikers', the military doctors', and your predicaments. We offer our services to visit, examine and advise them and to assist in any way that is acceptable to all parties.
The Independent medical assistance for Guantanamo hunger strikers petition to President Barack Obama was written by Frank Arnold and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.